As we say not as we do, scrutiny alerts and updates, and further RIP to the “Arthur Andersen effect.” It’s all here in 200th edition of the Friday roundup.As We Say, Not As We DoThis previous post highlighted the April Fools’ Day 2015 SEC enforcement action against KBR for its non-existent, theoretical muzzling of individuals in certain employment agreements. According to the SEC, this violated SEC Rule 21F-17, which provides in relevant part: (a) No person may take any action to impede an individual from communicating directly with the Commission staff about a possible securities law violation, including enforcing, or threatening to enforce, a confidentiality agreement . . . with respect to such communications.”Earlier this week, the SEC returned to this enforcement theory by finding in an administrative order that BlueLinx Holdings Inc. “violated securities laws by using severance agreements that required outgoing employees to waive their rights to monetary recovery should they file a charge or complaint with the SEC or other federal agencies.”SEC enforcement officials stated:“We’re continuing to stand up for whistleblowers and clear away impediments that may chill them from coming forward with information about potential securities law violations.”“Companies simply cannot undercut a key tenet of our whistleblower program by requiring employees to forego potential whistleblower awards in order to receive their severance payments.”Without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings, BlueLinx agreed to pay a $265,000 civil penalty.The irony – as also noted in the prior post – is that all NPAs and DPAs that the SEC has used to resolve corporate FCPA enforcement actions contain a so-called muzzle clause along the following lines:“Respondent agrees not to take any action or to make or permit any public statement through present or future attorneys, employees, agents, or other persons authorized to speak for it, except in legal proceedings in which the Commission is not a party in litigation or otherwise, denying, directly or indirectly, any aspect of this Agreement or creating the impression that the statements in [the Statement of Facts” are without factual basis. […] Prior to issuing a press release concerning this Agreement, the Respondent agrees to have the text of the release approved by the staff of the Division.”Similar to the SEC’s own internal controls deficiencies, this appears to be another example of as we say, not as we do.Scrutiny Alerts and UpdatesAirbusEarlier this week, the U.K. Serious Fraud Office announced that it “has opened a criminal investigation [in July 2016] into allegations of fraud, bribery and corruption in the civil aviation business of Airbus Group. These allegations relate to irregularities concerning third party consultants.”As highlighted in this prior post GPT Special Project Management Ltd, a unit of Airbus, has been under scrutiny since August 2012 for its business dealings in Saudi Arabia.This 2009 post highlights how a U.S. Congressman accused Airbus of bribery. The Congressman stated that “agents for the Airbus company have openly said that yes we do use bribery, in fact we budget for it.”A question to ponder regarding the scrutiny of Airbus is whether there is any functional difference between the Airbus allegations and U.S. diplomats who act as “marketing agents” for U.S. companies in the airplane industry to help broker sales with foreign governments.This article – “The Uncomfortable Truths and Double Standards of Bribery Enforcement” – highlights a Boeing example.As described by the NY Times: “[Foreign] government leaders had one thing in common: they were trying to decide whether to buy billions of dollars’ worth of commercial jets from Boeing or its European competitor, Airbus. And United States diplomats were acting like marketing agents, offering deals to heads of state and airline executives whose decisions could be influenced by price, performance and, as with all finicky customers with plenty to spend, perks.” BiometThis June post highlighted how the DOJ determined that Biomet breached its 2012 DPA (used to resolve an FCPA enforcement action concerning alleged conduct in Argentina, Brazil and China) because of subsequent problematic conduct in Mexico and Brazil.Earlier this week Zimmer Biomet disclosed:“We believe it is probable that Biomet will incur additional liabilities related to these investigations, which we have accrued in ‘Other current liabilities’ as of the Closing Date. It is reasonably possible our estimates may change in the near future once the DOJ and SEC complete their investigations and we conclude our discussions regarding possible resolution.”NovartisIn March Novartis agreed to pay $25 million to resolve an SEC Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action concerning alleged conduct in China. Shortly thereafter (as highlighted in this post), Novartis became the focus of additional scrutiny for alleged conduct in Turkey.Earlier this week, as highlighted here, six current or former employees were indicted by a Seoul, South Korea prosecutors office for providing kickbacks to doctors including paying for their travel abroad. As noted in the article:“Novartis said it launched its own internal investigation immediately after being alerted to the Korean shortcomings. It has begun remediation measures and will discipline employees who broke rules, the company said. “Novartis does not tolerate misconduct,” it said. “We will continue to invest significant efforts to fully embed a culture of compliance throughout our Korean organization.”Further RIP to the “Arthur Andersen effect”This June post declared the so-called Arthur Andersen effect (i.e. that criminal charges alone, and certainly criminal convictions, could be the death sentence of a business organization) dead when FedEx beat back DOJ criminal charges.The prior post noted a pending criminal trial against Pacific Gas & Electric Corporation (PG&E).PG&E, a publicly-traded company, was criminally charged in April 2014 with multiple violations of the Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act. Shortly thereafter, the DOJ brought additional criminal charges for obstruction of the investigation of the National Transportation Safety Board, as well as additional violations of the Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act.Pursuant to the Arthur Anderson effect, criminal charges alone should have lead to the demise of the company.However, the company fought back and while the jury was deliberating the court granted the DOJ’s request to drop its claim under the Alternative Fines Act. What was once a possible $562 million case was trimmed to a $6 million case.The jury continued to deliberate and earlier this week the jury failed to convict on six of the twelve criminal counts.That the jury convicted PG&E on six criminal counts does not undermine the latest example of why the Arthur Anderson effect is dead.Indeed, PG&E is still in business today; in fact its stock price has trended upward since the guilty verdicts.*****A good weekend to all.
Learning a new topic or elevating knowledge and practical skills in a topic is not just for formal students in formal educational settings. Professionals in the workplace can also invest in themselves and take advantage of “back to school” opportunities.For professionals in the FCPA space – or wishing to join the FCPA space – the FCPA Institute serves this objective.The next FCPA Institute will take place in Nashville on April 11-12.This link introduces you to the two-day FCPA Institute, how the FCPA Institute is different than other FCPA conferences, the substantive knowledge and practical skills participants will gain by attending the FCPA Institute, and what prior FCPA Institute “graduates” have said about their experience. CLE credit is available. To learn more about the FCPA Institute and to register, click here.Can’t attend the live, in-person FCPA Institute? No problem, the FCPA Institute is also online and is the most comprehensive online FCPA training course available. read more
Password Lost your password? Remember me Second-year law students Lani Durio and Hayley Hervieux went undefeated in their first varsity advocacy competition . . .You must be a subscriber to The Texas Lawbook to access this content. Username Not a subscriber? Sign up for The Texas Lawbook.
by, Kavan Peterson, Editor, ChangingAging.orgTweetShareShareEmail0 SharesDownload a copy of the poster here: Tribes of Eden Event in BaltimoreBALTIMORE – August 31 2012 — William H. Thomas, a Harvard-trained physician, award-winning social activist, visionary eldercare reformer, mixed-power farmer, musician, playwright and author, brings his vision for a new old age to Baltimore with a public reading of his new novel Tribes of Eden, hosted by GEDCO at Stadium Place Sept. 13 at 5:30 p.m.Tribes of Eden uses a post-apocalyptic scenario to show how trust, community and wisdom can overcome even the most tyrannical power and repair a broken world.Thomas said the novel is inspired by his life’s work as a self-proclaimed “nursing home abolitionist” seeking to change the way society views aging. Thomas is founder of The Eden Alternative, a global nonprofit focused on transforming nursing homes into elder-centered communities, and The Green House Project, a revolutionary model to replace institutional nursing homes with smaller, 10-12 person homes. GEDCO’s Stadium Place is home to Maryland’s first Green House Project residence.The reading is open to the public in the Ednor Apartments II at Stadium Place, 1050 E. 33rd St. — seating is limited, please RSVP by contacting Ted Gross (firstname.lastname@example.org; 410-243-0188).“Tribes of Eden is a classic thriller and coming-of-age story that people of all ages can enjoy,” said Thomas. “But the story is inspired by and dedicated to the real tribes of Eden, the thousands of people worldwide who believe that elders deserve a place at the heart of society and the opportunity for continued growth throughout life.”Tribes of Eden, the sequel to Thomas’ 1999 title In the Arms of Elders, is set in the near future after the collapse of society. It follows a mother and her two children as they find refuge in an isolated community hidden from “The GRID,” a totalitarian power that restored order with an iron fist. As The GRID’s virtual new world order begins to threaten the community, a young girl must lead an alliance of the young and old to restore humanity.Thomas said the novel introduces a new vision of old age that he hopes will counter what he sees as widespread ageism in our society that has been detrimental to efforts to improve the care of older adults.“As a culture, we fear, loathe and deny the realities of aging,” Thomas said. “We worship youth and blind ourselves to the plight of millions of people who are institutionalized against their will in nursing homes for the sole crime of frailty.”For two decades, Thomas has been a leader in an international movement to de-institutionalize nursing homes through The Eden Alternative, a philosophy to create long term care environments that provide a “pathway to a life worth living” by promoting relationships and meaningful interactions. Over 27,000 caregivers have been trained in the Eden Alternative philosophy and 200 nursing homes have adopted its practices in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Australia, including Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center in Baltimore.The Green House Project model is based on the Eden philosophy, and more than 100 Green House Project homes have opened in 27 states. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has invested more than $15 million to replicate the model in all 50 states. Located on the grounds of Baltimore’s old Memorial Stadium, Maryland’s first Green House was built and thrives in the heart of the community its elders come from. It is integrated into a larger mixed-income urban retirement community operated by the nonprofit GEDCO that currently includes four apartment buildings for low and moderate-income seniors, a YMCA facility, Memorial Field at the Y, ThanksGiving Place and a community-built playground.Despite the success of The Eden Alternative and Green House, Thomas argues that “culture change” in long term care is not spreading fast enough to the nation’s more than 15,000 nursing homes.“We have more nursing homes in the U.S. than Starbucks coffee shops,” Thomas said. “Nursing homes exist in every community, but they are a part of no community. When we reject old age we reject our elders.”Thomas said he used a post-apocalyptic scenario to create a dystopian environment in which everyone is stripped of safety, security and independence and put into the power of an authoritarian regime.“In other words, they experience what it’s like to be placed in a nursing home against their will,” he said.Storytelling has been an integral part of Thomas’ work since founding The Eden Alternative in 1991. He is author five previous books and two plays, the latest of which, “The Play Not There,” debuts at The Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis June 8, 2012.“I’ve found storytelling to be one of the most powerful tools in changing the culture of long term care,” said Thomas, who runs a popular blog on aging at ChangingAging.org. “It has long been my goal to tap into that power to change the broader culture of aging in our society.”Thomas’ publishing company, Sana Publications, has dedicated all proceeds from the novel to The Eden Alternative global non-profit to support education, innovation and development of new models of “person-centered care” that put the needs of people before the needs of institutions. Related PostsSyracuse Book Fair Features Post-Apocalyptic Tribes of EdenLocal author William H. Thomas, a Harvard-trained physician, award-winning social activist, visionary eldercare reformer, mixed-power farmer, musician, and playwright, brings his vision for a new old age in a public reading and signing of his new book Tribes of Eden at the Syracuse Arts and Crafts Book Fair July 28.Read the May 24 ChangingAging Blogstream RoundupThe ChangingAging Weekly Blogstream Roundup is now posted online. Please click here to read, comment and share this week’s top stories on the culture, politics and news of aging.Tribes of Eden Is HereHave you ever wonder what would happen if the economy actually did collapse? If the grocery shelves went bare for good and the pumps dried up, how long before society unraveled? In his gripping debut novel Tribes of Eden, published April 2, William H. Thomas envisions a world ravished not…TweetShareShareEmail0 SharesTags: gedco green house project The Eden Alternative tribes of eden read more
by, Jeanette Leardi, ChangingAging ContributorTweetShare47ShareEmail47 SharesI get this reaction on a regular basis: I’m at the supermarket checkout counter with my cloth shopping bags, and the cashier starts to ring up my groceries and pack them. I notice s/he is placing next to one another the couple of items that come in glass jars or bottles, and I immediately request that those bottles please be separated into separate bags (of which I have brought plenty). There’s a rolling of the eyes, a scowl, or a drawn-out sigh of disapproval as that person begrudgingly does what I ask. The same exchange happens when I notice that my eggs are being placed in the bottom of a bag and about to be covered by heavy items such as cans or a large container of detergent. Ditto when refrigerated or frozen foods are going into the same bag as cereal boxes and other paper packaging that absorb moisture.Have people like this never experienced arriving home to find their own groceries broken, crushed, or soaked? What’s going on (or not) in their minds when they perform this task for others? Packing groceries ain’t rocket science. It just takes some basic common sense and a concern for others’ needs. The same thing applies to unpacking ageism. And remarkably, the same rules can be applied.Rule #1: Don’t create impractical categories that defeat the experience at hand. Why place all glass items together in the same bag? I would bet that most households don’t assign separate spaces at home for “glass things,” “metal things,” “paper things,” and “plastic things.” Likewise, why continually segregate people in social or policy-making situations simply because of their age? Which leads to Rule #2: Create categories and policies that are meaningful. It’s more important that glass items not collide while being transported, eggs not get crushed, and cereal boxes not get soaked due to the condensation of frozen foods. We should consider usefulness and urgency as the criteria for our decisions. We need social policies that establish a strong foundation in order to support fragile or otherwise more particular concerns. Creating all-age-friendly communities is the basis upon which we can build economic stability, physical access, social engagement, and personal productivity for all generations. And underlying that endeavor must be an awareness of ageism as a threat to those goals.And finally, there’s Rule #3: Be willing –– and eager –– to accommodate personal needs and preferences. Maybe some people don’t mind if their eggs are placed underneath that gallon of milk. But I assure you that there are others (including you, perhaps?) who do mind. It’s easy for us to see how children can be very different from one another; consider any two siblings, for example. Why is it so hard, then, for society to understand and accept the fact that older adults vary even more greatly in their experiences, abilities, and aspirations? A commitment to promoting person-centered care in every aspect of our culture is vital to preserving the individual autonomy, dignity, and viability of all older adults. And that commitment should be made with empathy –– and enthusiasm. Defeating ageism ain’t rocket science. It’s as easy as knowing which things go together and which don’t. And to have the common sense and decency to do a good job following through.Related PostsAgeism . . . Not Just for Grown-upsSitting in a local coffee shop, I recently overheard a couple of women talking about ageism and the havoc it wreaks on older people. But then, almost in the same breath, the focus of the conversation shifted to teenagers today.Declaring Independence From AgeismThis Fourth of July lets declare independence from ageism! It won’t be an easy revolution. Like the colonial British Empire, ageism won’t roll over without a fight.Meeting My Inner Bag Lady: An Encounter with my own AgeismI learned slowly and gently to coax the bag lady out of the darkness, listen to her message for me, respond differently to older people, and deal with the fear and dread of my own aging.TweetShare47ShareEmail47 Shares read more
Aug 21 2018Osaka University-led Japanese researchers clarified that intellectual deterioration (IQ decline) was related to work status in patients with schizophrenia. The researchers also proposed a method for estimating probabilities of work outcome in those patients based on related factors, such as IQ decline, social function, and psychiatric symptoms.Japanese scientists demonstrate that the difference between current full scale IQ and estimated premorbid IQ is related to work outcome in patients with schizophreniaSchizophrenia is a mental disorder that occurs in one out of every 100 people. Its symptoms include positive symptoms, such as hallucinations and delusions, and negative symptoms, such as social withdrawal, apathy, and cognitive impairments. In many cases, these symptoms become chronic and relapse. In addition, many patients with schizophrenia show deterioration of intelligence, which prevents them from independent living in their community, and joining the work force, in particular.Related StoriesRandomized controlled trial introduces new psychotherapeutic approach to schizophreniaScientists identify 104 high-risk genes for schizophreniaExploring how schizophrenia and depression are related to drug consumptionA research team led by Ryota Hashimoto at Osaka University clarified that IQ decline, defined as a difference between current full scale IQ (FIQ) and estimated premorbid IQ, was related to work status in patients with schizophrenia. The researchers also proposed a method for estimating probabilities of work outcome in those patients based on related factors, such as IQ decline, social function, and psychiatric symptoms. Their research results were published in Schizophrenia Research.First, various variables were compared between the preserved group (patients with preserved IQ), the deteriorated group (patients whose current intelligence was lower than their estimated premorbid intelligence), and the healthy controls (the group of healthy volunteers).Next, they performed logistic regression analyses to predict work status in patients with schizophrenia using the significant variables found in the group comparisons. The work status was dichotomized by a criterion of 1, 10, 20, or 30 hours per week. At each criterion, patients were classified into either the above or the below criterion according to their actual work hours.The analyses demonstrated that IQ decline was effective for predicting work status. Based on the equations obtained from the logistic regression models, they also presented a method for predicting probabilities for working longer than each criterion.The first author Chika Sumiyoshi at Fukushima University says, “The amount of work performed by patients with schizophrenia was predicted by doctors only based on their experience and intuition. Our research results will help them to explain how many hours patients can work to them and their families based on objective data and promote consensus-building between the patient and physician. This will help motivate patients to receive treatment and promote their reintegration into society. Source:http://resou.osaka-u.ac.jp/en/research/2018/20180629_2 read more
Source:https://www.escardio.org/The-ESC/Press-Office/Press-releases/Short-and-fragmented-sleep-linked-to-hardened-arteries Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Aug 27 2018Sleeping less than six hours or waking up several times in the night is associated with an increased risk of asymptomatic atherosclerosis, which silently hardens and narrows the arteries, according to results of the PESA study presented today at ESC Congress 2018.Dr Fernando Dominguez, study author, of the Spanish National Centre for Cardiovascular Research (CNIC) in Madrid, said: “Bad sleeping habits are very common in Western societies and previous studies have suggested that both short and long sleep are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. However, there is a lack of large studies that have objectively measured both sleep and subclinical atherosclerosis.”Related StoriesHigh sleep variability and short sleep duration predict blunted weight lossSleep disorders in patients with low back pain linked to increased healthcare visits, costsSleep makes synapses ready for new learningThe PESA study enrolled 3,974 healthy middle-aged adults who wore a waistband activity monitor for seven days to record sleep quality and quantity. They were divided into five groups according to the proportion of fragmented sleep, and four groups designating average hours slept a night: less than six (very short), six to seven (short), seven to eight (the reference), and more than eight (long). Atherosclerosis was assessed in leg and neck arteries using three-dimensional ultrasound.The average age of participants was 46 years and 63% were men. After adjusting for conventional cardiovascular risk factors and potential confounding factors, including age, gender, moderate to vigorous physical activity, body mass index, smoking status, alcohol consumption, blood pressure, education level, blood glucose levels, total cholesterol, total calorie consumption per day, marital status, stress and depression questionnaire scores and obstructive sleep apnea risk (STOP-BANG score), very short sleepers had significantly more atherosclerosis than those who got seven to eight hours (odds ratio [OR] 1.27, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.06-1.52, p=0.008).Those in the highest quintile of fragmented sleep were more likely to have multiple sections of arteries with atherosclerosis compared to those in the lowest quintile (OR 1.34, 95% CI 1.09-1.64, p=0.006) .Dr Dominguez said: “People who had short or disrupted sleep were also more likely to have metabolic syndrome, which refers to the combination of diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity, and depicts an unhealthy lifestyle.”He concluded: “Failure to get enough sleep and restlessness during the night should be considered risk factors for blocking or narrowing of the arteries. Studies are needed to find out if sleeping well and long enough can prevent or reverse this effect on the arteries. In the meantime it seems sensible to take steps to get a good night’s sleep – such as having a physically active lifestyle and avoiding coffee and fatty foods before bedtime.” read more
Source:http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/ Reviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Sep 6 2018Investigators at the UC Davis MIND Institute and NeuroPointDX, a division of Stemina Biomarker Discovery, have identified a group of blood metabolites that could help detect some children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Part of the Children’s Autism Metabolome Project (CAMP), the largest metabolomic ASD study ever attempted, these findings are a key step toward developing an ASD biomarker test. The research was published September 6 in the journal Biological Psychiatry.”With this panel of alterations in amino acid metabolism, we can detect about 17 percent of kids with ASD,” said David G. Amaral, founding director of research at the MIND Institute and senior author on the paper. “This is the first of hopefully many panels that will identify other subsets of kids with autism.”No biomarker tests for ASD currently exist. Children are diagnosed based on their altered behaviors, which may not become evident until children are 2-4 years old. Families often must wait over a year or more for an appointment with a specialist, delaying diagnosis even further.CAMP researchers believe the answer lies in the metabolome – the molecules that remain after larger molecules have been broken down (metabolized). Metabolomics has the advantage of monitoring both genetic and environmental contributions to the development of autism.”By the time you’re getting to metabolomics, you’re looking at how the body is working, not just the genes it has,” said Amaral, a professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.The team hopes to use these and other CAMP findings to accelerate diagnosis and move kids into intensive behavioral therapy at an earlier age, which has proven quite effective. The multisite study has collected blood samples from 1,100 children – about two-thirds having been diagnosed with ASD – between 18 months and 4 years old. This is the first publication from the CAMP effort.”One of the major goals of the MIND Institute is the development of early biological markers for detecting the risk of autism spectrum disorder,” Amaral said. “It would have been difficult for the MIND Institute to carry out the CAMP study on its own.”Amaral added that CAMP is an excellent example of an academic/corporate partnership that has the promise of benefitting the autism community.Related StoriesEyes hold clues to effective treatment of severe autism, study showsNeuroscientists find anatomical link between cognitive and perceptual symptoms in autismStudy: Early screening of autism may not be as beneficial as previously thought”It is unlikely that a single marker will detect all autism,” he said. “This paper demonstrates that alterations in metabolic profiles can detect sizable subsets of individuals with autism. The hope is that we will be able to generate a panel of biomarkers that will detect a large proportion of people at risk. Moreover, this approach highlights metabolic pathways that may be targets of intervention.”In their work the research team compared blood metabolites – specifically, amino acids – in 516 kids with ASD and 164 children showing typical development. They found that 17 percent of the ASD children had unique concentrations of specific amino acids (metabotypes) in their blood. Though a 17 percent subgroup may seem small, it is actually quite significant. ASD encompasses a complex array of symptoms, and no one expected to find a single group of markers that would diagnose all subsets. Rather, the researchers hope to create a number of metabolomic assays that cover all variations.”The long-term vision is, once we’ve been able to analyze all the data from CAMP, we would have a series of panels,” said Amaral. “Each of these would be able to detect a subset of kids with autism. Ultimately, metabolomics may be able to identify most children with autism.”In addition to enabling earlier diagnosis, this work also could help generate targeted interventions for specific ASD groups. Amaral points to phenylketonuria (PKU) as a possible template. PKU is a rare disease in which the amino acid phenylalanine builds up, causing brain damage. However, relatively small dietary adjustments can make a big difference.”With just a simple dietary modification, a child can move from being profoundly disabled to one who lives a reasonably normal life,” said Amaral. “That’s the hope with autism as well.”The CAMP researchers will continue to validate these results while simultaneously investigating other metabotypes.”I’m optimistic this is not a one-off,” said Amaral. “There are going to be other panels that can detect other groups of kids with ASD.” read more
Corals harbor colorful symbiotic algae called zooxanthellae, which use photosynthesis to produce nutrients for themselves and their hosts. When the water gets too hot the corals expel the zooxanthellae and turn white, or bleach. If the water cools soon enough, the algae return. But prolonged bleaching can kill the corals—and much more. The loss of coral cover makes reefs less hospitable for many marine organisms and fish, leading to a dramatic loss of biodiversity. Bleaching occurs occasionally because of local conditions—in 2002, for example, local hot weather drove widespread bleaching on the GBR. But an El Niño drives up temperatures all across the Pacific and influences waters and weather patterns worldwide. The record-setting 1998 bleaching resulted from a particularly powerful El Niño. A 2010 El Niño also caused extensive global bleaching. In late 2014, NOAA’s Eakin, who runs the agency’s Coral Reef Watch, predicted a “global-scale bleaching event” because of the then-emerging El Niño. The reports started flowing in at the beginning of 2015. That April, Dempsey and other researchers reported extensive bleaching in the British Indian Ocean Territory, a speck of isles in the Indian Ocean halfway between Africa and Indonesia. “More than 50% of branching corals, some as large as 2 meters in diameter, were beginning to show the early onset of bleaching,” says Dempsey, who was part of a team surveying the remote and rarely visited reefs. Extensive bleaching hit Hawaii in November 2015 and then Fiji and New Caledonia in February of this year. “Bleaching is going on right now across half the globe in the Southern Hemisphere,” Eakin says. “We expect the warming to continue its northward movement in the Indian Ocean, and the long-range outlook is calling for bleaching in the Caribbean this summer,” he adds. The fate of the GBR will be documented best, thanks to Australia’s scientific resources. About 6 months ago, Hughes laid plans for a National Coral Bleaching Taskforce, which swung into action last week with aerial surveys and teams of divers. The team uses a zero-to-five scoring system, where zero is no bleaching, three is 30% to 60%, and four is more than 60% bleaching. Hughes notes that 95% of the reefs they checked were scored as three or four. For comparison, in 2002 only 18% of the reefs were bleached that badly. “Without a doubt, [the damage] is much more extreme than in 2002 or 1998,” he says.A tropical cyclone in early March cooled off the central and southern sections of the reef. But coral scientists don’t know exactly how far south the bleaching extends; to find out, they plan more aerial surveys of the GBR this week. It is not clear what percentage of the bleached corals will die. But Hoegh-Guldberg was surprised by the bleaching at the GBR’s pristine remote northern tip, which is least subject to fishing and tourism pressure. “We were feeling somehow that the northern end of the reef would be more robust,” he says. The optimistic view, Hughes notes, is that the pristine reefs “should bounce back faster, but the level of bleaching will take a decade to recover from.” Australian studies of this and the other major bleaching events, in 1998 and 2002, could yield clues about reef resilience. “Some lucky reefs haven’t been hit and some have been clobbered three times,” Hughes says. He and his colleagues will start looking for patterns, including how distant a particular reef is from the coast, its water quality, and the impacts of fishing and tourism, “to see if we can get some clues why some reefs are more vulnerable.” If water quality proves to be a determining factor, “that would point to an obvious management imperative,” Hughes says. But improving water quality will have only a minor impact, given global warming. “The only way out of this bind is to rapidly contain further increases in global warming” by implementing the carbon dioxide emission cuts pledged at last year’s Paris climate conference, Hoegh-Guldberg says. He is hopeful that the 500 million people worldwide who rely on reefs for their livelihoods will start making their voices heard. The damage to the GBR and other reefs, he adds, shows the “graphic alternative if we don’t deal with this issue.” Even as recently as early March, Australian coral reef scientists still hoped that the legendary Great Barrier Reef (GBR) would get off lightly in the current El Niño, the climate phenomenon that brings unusually warm water to the equatorial Pacific, stressing and often killing corals. No such luck. On 20 March, the GBR Marine Park Authority in Townsville, Australia, reported that divers were finding extensive coral bleaching—the loss of symbiotic algae—in remote northern areas of the reef. Many sections were already dead.Subsequent flyover surveys have confirmed an unfolding disaster: “Only four reefs out of 520 [observed] had no bleaching,” says Terry Hughes, director of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies in Townsville, who personally checked the northernmost 1000 kilometers of the 2300-kilometer reef system over 4 days last week. “It was the saddest reef trip of my career.” The GBR joins a lengthening list of reefs bleached because of the El Niño that started in late 2014. It is now the longest bleaching event ever, and this El Niño, which helped make 2015 the planet’s hottest year on record, “isn’t even close to being over,” says Mark Eakin, a coral reef ecologist at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in College Park, Maryland. Even though the El Niño is now weakening, its lingering effects could cause bleaching for another year, he adds.Eakin says it is too early to tell whether this current event will match the infamous bleaching event of 1998, when 16% of reefs worldwide perished. But it is surely a sign of what’s to come, he and others contend. With global warming raising ocean temperatures, even relatively weak El Niños will be enough to make corals uncomfortably hot, Eakin warns. “If bleaching events continue to increase in both frequency and intensity, there will be a step-wise decline in the health of the reefs; the frequency of bleaching events can overwhelm the ability of the corals to recover,” says coral ecologist Alexandra Dempsey of the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation in Annapolis. Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, director of the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland, St. Lucia, in Brisbane, Australia, suggests that the world is on course to lose coral reefs entirely by 2040. “This is not in the future, it’s happening right now,” he says. TERRY HUGHES Aerial surveys in March of the Great Barrier Reef revealed extensive bleaching of corals (white). read more